Virtual volunteering – where there’s a will, there’s a way

By Judy Magliane, Market Execution Manager, Kellogg Company, St. Louis, Missouri

I’ve long volunteered whenever and wherever I can. Why? Because there have been times in my life when I’ve needed help ‒ where people reaching out made all the difference ‒ and I want to do the same for others.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, I was volunteering at a local senior center near my home in the St. Louis area. I saw the importance of this community to the seniors who participated. When the center closed and the seniors were forced to remain home and receive meal deliveries, I reached out with cards and texts to bring a smile to their faces. As Easter approached, I wanted to do more. So I downloaded coloring pages from Kellogg’s® Family Rewards, bought crayons and wordsearch books, and created care packages that were delivered to the seniors with their meals.

One day, I was brainstorming how we could help more people by engaging my Kellogg colleagues and the idea of the Kellogg Volunteer Power Hour was born. I shared the concept with the leaders of our K Pride & Allies Business/Employee Resource Group (B/ERG). They liked it and suggested I reach out to the Philanthropy and Social Purpose team within Corporate Affairs for help making it happen.

You see, Kellogg has a robust volunteer culture. Through our Kellogg’s® Better Days global purpose platform, we’re committed to addressing food security by creating better days for 3 million people by the end of 2030. During the pandemic, we’ve been unable to volunteer in schools, at food banks, community gardens and other programs. Everyone missed it!

Near the end of a workday, about 35 employees across the U.S. gathered for a one-hour video call. We’d all purchased the supplies to make care packages for organizations in our respective communities. I didn’t know what to expect, but the enthusiasm was incredible. We talked with old friends, met new colleagues and discussed many more ideas for how we can help our communities virtually.

Next thing I knew, the Volunteer Power Hour really took off. All eight of our B/ERGs and many of our food production facilities started hosting their own Volunteer Power Hours. Already, more than 5,000 people in our communities have benefited from five Volunteer Power Hours. And the idea of virtual volunteering continues to gain momentum.

For example, our colleagues in Latin America are using their talents to help foodbanks and other local organizations. One of our colleagues created a personal finance training program for a group that works with Mexican women artisans. Another used her logistics expertise to help a local nonprofit better manage their inventory, saving them money and time that can be better spent in the community. Kellogg employees in Latin America have supported more than 20 local organizations in this way.

The pandemic has certainly been challenging. It’s also given us opportunity to look for new ways to help others. I’ve heard from several people that they hadn’t volunteered before and now are enjoying doing so. After 17 years with Kellogg in five states, I’m so pleased to be a part of bringing this meaningful way of helping others to life.

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